The Crisis of the Italy Political System Part 4

There were two main questions that had to be translated into figures from the electoral test: the strength of the PDS and the dimensions of the expected success of the Northern League. The results were unequivocal. The PDS lost more than 10% compared to the PCI, but many votes were collected by the Communist Refoundation Party born in December 1991 and into which Proletarian Democracy had merged: the sum of the results of the two formations did however mark a loss between 6 and 7%. The Northern League brought 55 deputies and 25 senators into parliament (the Lombard League had only two representatives, one in the Chamber and one in the Senate, in the previous legislature) and stood as the fourth party even though it received votes almost exclusively in northern Italy: in the south of ‘Umbria obtained percentages of less than 1%. Defeat appeared the DC that fell below 30% losing 4.6% in the House and 6.3% in the Senate. Disappointing was also the result of the PSI which interrupted the gradual rise of the previous consultations and did not take advantage of the communist collapse, demonstrating a by now consolidated distance between the two electorates. The liberals were recovering and the Social Democrats were slightly down: the quadripartite majority was thus found with a small margin in Parliament (15 seats in the Chamber and 5 in the Senate). Republicans who had chosen the opposition gained over the 1987 elections, but could not repeat the positive result of 1983. The Greens improved their positions slightly. A discreet affirmation obtained a new movement called The Net which was headed by the former Christian Democrat mayor of Palermo L. Orlando, who had led a junta extended to the Communists and the Greens between the spring of 1989 and the beginning of 1990. From a prevalently Sicilian diffusion, the Network had expanded nationally, gathering politicians and intellectuals (including many Catholics and former Communists) in combat committed against traditional parties, the mafia and corruption. Overall, the electoral results recorded a strong gap between the richer and more productive North, where the DC and PSI were in crisis in the face of the League, and the South where, on the other hand, these parties maintained their positions and in some cases strengthened them. This trend was confirmed by the administrative consultations held during 1992.

According to travelationary, the reopening of Parliament took place in a phase of serious disorientation of the political forces. With some difficulty, while the succession to Cossiga was imminent, the presidents of the two assemblies were elected: G. Spadolini was confirmed in the Senate, while for the presidency of the Chamber they wanted to interrupt the tradition that from 1976 saw it attributed to a personality of the greatest opposition party. The choice fell on OL Scalfaro, a Christian Democrat, who in the previous months had claimed the prerogatives of Parliament in the face of the hypothesis of institutional reform of the head of state.

On April 24 Andreotti resigned his government, a resignation due, as at any beginning of the legislature. The following day Cossiga, in a television message, announced his intention to resign, motivating his decision with the proximity of the expiry of his office and with the need for a new President of the Republic, strengthened by a mandate just received, to face the difficult political crisis. On April 28, Cossiga resigned and on May 13 the voting for the election of the head of state began.

The leaders of the DC and the PSI had chosen the candidacy of the socialist G. Vassalli, former minister of justice, but the ” big voters ” of the Christian Democrats turned out to be anything but inclined to vote for it. A stalemate ensued, and strong tensions in the DC prompted Forlani to resign as party secretary (later withdrawn). After a few days, Scalfaro’s candidacy emerged, which wanted to have an ” institutional ” character but was also an indication for a presidency other than that of Cossiga. The President of the Chamber obtained the votes of DC, PDS, PSI, PSDI, PLI, Rete, Verdi and Lista Pannella and was elected on May 25th on the 16th ballot.

The election to the supreme office of the state of a figure known for its moral rigor was also intended to be a response of the political class to the rampant discredit that had struck it (and would have struck it even more later) after the start of part of the Milanese judiciary of an investigation into bribes paid to parties to obtain public contracts. In the judicial investigation (known as “ clean hands ”) companies and entrepreneurs were gradually involved on the one hand, especially in the construction sector, on the other all the parties of the majority, but above all the PSI and the DC, and also – to a much lesser extent – the former PCI confirms in some cases a real partitioning practice. Local and national representatives have had to answer for the charges for illegal party financing, as well as for corruption and extortion aimed at promoting forms of self-financing and personal enrichment. A parallel and secret finance that kept the expensive party apparatuses alive, the electoral propaganda and helped, in many cases, to support the high standard of living of politicians.

The Crisis of the Italy Political System 4